Rock Band 2 Review

Get out your mandanas, because it’s time to rock – again.

It’s time to get out your cheap plastic instruments again, folks, and tear up the charts with some great new songs with Harmonix’ Rock Band 2. Of course, many people playing the first never stopped due to the weekly additions of new tracks, but with the release of the sequel, we’re getting a huge infusion of songs to play and some great new features that will make playing the game either alone or in a group easier than ever. The focus is even more on the music than before, so get three of your buddies and set aside a few days to take on the latest tracks.

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Rock Band 2 doesn’t change the formula – it just tweaks it. The first game showed us a vision of the “right” way to play a music game, where four people got together to all play cooperatively, and RB2 tries to perfect the formula while giving us a great selection of new tracks. It’s easier to play alone, it’s easier to play with friends, and it’s also easier to compete against others as a band. Mix in a slick new visual style, the same on-screen antics by the band members and plenty more convenience in the way of setting up controllers and band members and simply playing the game, and I think you’ll find that your original Rock Band disc will have become completely obsolete.

That’s also due in part to the patch for the original game that allows you to export the original Rock Band tracks to your hard drive for play in Rock Band 2 – the charge is a one-time fee of $5 for re-licensing those tracks, and it’s well worth it to be able to take those original tracks and mix them in with your downloaded music (all of which works in Rock Band 2, including the stuff sold under the first game many months ago) and the new stuff that is offered in this release. All told, the Rock Band series, according to Harmonix, will have 500 songs available to play by the end of this year, and all will be playable in RB2.

And that’s really where Harmonix has differentiated themselves from Activision and their upcoming Guitar Hero : World Tour. Sure, the new GH has some cool instruments and also reproduces a whole band playing with guitar, bass, drums, and mic, and hell, they even have real musicians like Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Corgan represented in-game with motion capture, but put simply, Rock Band 2 is all about playing a huge range of music with your friends. Rock Band 2‘s music is made up of 100% master tracks, although Harmonix has gone on the record saying that we may still get less-desirable covers in future downloadable tracks.

 

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